Verizon FiOS service over the top & mobile? CEO in talks with content owners

Say “hello” to the first virtual MSO, which could come roaring down the pipe – or over your mobile device — from Verizon in the very near future… maybe even this year.

Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam told the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference that he’s “personally had discussions with the CEOs of the large content companies, and we would love to partner with them to see how we can take FiOS content mobilely across the country,” stressing that the telco’s goal would be to “work with the content providers.”

Rumors that Verizon was working toward a virtual MSO, one that could deliver content outside its normal service footprint, cropped up after it rolled out plans for it Verizon Digital Media Service. Those rumors gained steam with a couple of recent technology acquisitions, CDN EdgeCast, encoding specialist UpLynk and, most recently, the purchase of Intel’s moribund OnCue, an Internet TV unit the chipmaker hoped could be its own portal to Internet TV. But OnCue struggled – in part – because it that reportedly couldn’t get buy in from content owners, and was facing opposition fromother pay-TV operators.

McAdam Tuesday told the Morgan Stanley conference that he believed there was room in the market for both a traditional pay-TV service and one where content is delivered over the top.

“I think you can actually get a virtuous cycle where broadcast viewing goes up and over-the-top viewing goes up, if you time this properly,” McAdam said.

Also working in its favor may be a slight easing of content restrictions as content owners warm to the idea of expanding licensing rights.

On Monday, Dish Network and Disney reached a deal that will allow the satellite operator to deliver Disney-owned content online.

Verizon isn’t the first company to stick its toe into the virtual MSO waters, Sony – at CES – said it wanted to offer an online TV service through its game consoles. Microsoft, too, has contemplated offering a service through its Xbox console, and Google, Apple, Vizio, M-GO and others all contemplated launching internet TV services as well at one point or another.

Stay tuned.

Jim O’Neill is Editor of Videomind and Principal Analyst at Brightcove. You can follow him on Twitter @JimONeillMedia and on LinkedIn